Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Freedom Project Week, Day 2

“Freedom Project and Cats Protection"

The Dogs Trust Freedom Project, in partnership with Cats Protection, is able to offer help to cats as well as dogs in Greater London and Hertfordshire.  This successful working relationship has helped over 300 cats belonging to families fleeing domestic violence. 

Dog Trust Freedom Project staff accept referrals into the service for cats as well as dogs and then Cats Protection takes over by arranging their collection and fostering until their families are in a position to have them back. Dogs Trust staff act as the main point of contact for the families whilst the cats are cared for and liaise directly with Cats Protection so regular updates can be sent back to their owners. 

As with the dogs fostered through the project, cats are also fostered by volunteer carers whose expenses are covered by Cats Protection.  All cats coming onto the project are checked by a vet, vaccinated and neutered. 

Peter Hepburn, CEO at Cats Protection comments:

“The Freedom Project is so important to me. It does vital work – every cat and dog, every child, every adult helped is another success. The volunteers and staff who run the project are absolute stars.

The project is one of many ways that our two charities, Cats Protection and Dogs Trust, work together. I’m proud to be associated with every aspect of the project.”

To donate or for further information on fostering cats, please visit the Cats Protection website today! You can also find out about volunteering to become a foster carer for Cats Protection here.

Domestic Violence - The Facts
and who is there to help...

  • 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime.
  • 1 incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute. 
  • Domestic violence accounts for 10% of emergency calls.
  • At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence.
  • 5 million women and 2.9 million men have experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16.

We work alongside refuges and domestic violence support services to help families fleeing domestic violence access the Freedom Project:


"1.2 million women experienced domestic violence last year, and many women tell us they felt they couldn’t leave because they feared for their pets.

Perpetrators of domestic violence can use pets to maintain control over a partner which provides another barrier to leaving.  The Dogs Trust Freedom Project provides unique and essential support to women and animals at risk from violent men.

Hundreds of women have been helped so far by the Freedom project, and we look forward to working together with the Dogs Trust to ensure all women escaping domestic violence can find a safe place for their animals as well as themselves.”  Polly Neate, CEO Women’s Aid

Keighley Women’s Aid

The Dogs Trust Freedom Project is a vital resource both to refuges and our clients. Before the availability of this kind of dog fostering service many women refused or were reluctant to leave their abusive situations for fear that their beloved pet would be harmed or killed. This meant that both they and their pet were continuously subjected to fear and intimidation by their abuser. They would endure the pain and suffering rather than leave their pet or give them up for adoption.

Our residents who have used the Freedom Project have all had a positive experience. Once the fostering is all arranged they stay in the refuge knowing that they have one less thing to worry about. They miss their dog enormously but they receive regular and cheerful feedback on their dog’s progress. This really helps to brighten their stay and provides a great incentive to move forward with their lives. Knowing they will be reunited with their dog at the end of a sometimes arduous journey of adjustment and rehousing is their reward.

Another positive aspect for women in refuge, who are usually on low incomes, is the assistance they receive with paying for their dog’s food, veterinary care, neutering and vaccinations whilst in the fostering service.  These canine health checks and preventative actions are often overlooked when women and children are living in abusive relationships because their abuser denies them access to funds or freedom to attend appointments for themselves and their pets.

Reuniting healthy, more confident women and children with healthy, more confident dogs is the perfect start to a better life. Thanks to all those who work and volunteer for Dogs Trust Freedom Project. Your project really does improve the lives of women, children and their pets.


Many women and children have been forced to stay with violent partners because they can’t leave their pets behind – and in some instances violent men are also violent towards the family pets. 

One woman I met told me that her husband often used the dog as a weapon of control and in a rage threw their beloved dog off the balcony of their high rise flat. Many women have stood by helplessly while their partners kick and torture family pets.  If a man can hit an animal the woman is bound to think “it could be me next”. 

With the Freedom Project only a phone call away women and children can now be sure that their pets can also be rescued. Women, children and their pets all have a right to live in safety.

- Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive, Refuge

Camden Safety Net

Camden Safety Net find the Dogs Trust Freedom Project to be a vital part of the safety planning work that we carry out with our clients.

We currently work with people at high risk of serious harm, and in some cases this can also mean direct harm to pets in the household. Perpetrators can use pets as a form of control and, due to fear of what will happen to them, our clients would stay in the abusive situation if they did not have an alternative option.

Clients who have had their pets fostered by Dogs Trust have been able to get away from the abusive situation and rebuild their lives. I do not doubt that this service saves lives.

For anyone who can foster a dog, I would urge you to do so as I cannot fully express the difference this service makes to people and their pets.  

Throughout Freedom Project Week we will be posting accounts from some of the families accessing our service on how abuse affected them and their pets before they found refuge…. 

You can read Amanda's story today.

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